Thursday, July 14, 2011

Street - Bike Trail Intersection Etiquette... again

Lincoln has more than 100 miles of bike/multi-use paths criss-crossing the city. They also intersect with major and not so major streets. There are above and below grade crossings for high traffic streets. But there are also at-grade crossings, mostly in residential areas, but a few are at busy intersections. Most have a crosswalk marked in the street and all but a few have a stop light.

I've observed that, as a cyclist, I can affect how a driver reacts at the at-grade crossings. If my front wheel is within 6 inches of the street surface at an at-grade residential crossing, drivers freak out and slam on their brakes. It doesn't matter that both my feet are unclipped and my hands are in the air (off the handlebars) waving them through. Then they wave me through with a look of disgust on their faces.

And then they get angry at me for not going.

I'm serious when I say motorists aren't looking or even aware of a cyclist's presence until it's too late. At least initially. Their behavior will change after a close call or two.

The best place in Lincoln to observe a change in driving habits due to horrible cyclist behavior is 26th street at the Mopac. Cars travel through there at 5-10mph because cyclists come off the 27th street bike bridge as if their brakes are unhooked.


Stop sign is there for a reason, cyclists: the car is 15-20 times your weight and (would ordinarily be) travelling at 25mph. If that's not scary enough: 18 wheelers use that street to deliver products to retail businesses. Those drivers may not drive through there often enough to know that you have total disregard for your own life.

I've learned to stop a few feet from the street, using the sidewalk (if present) as my guide. Often times I will hold the stop-sign post. The cars don't see me and go about their business. I get to cross safely. Everybody is happy.

But today I was 33rd street, a busy two lane road with a center turn lane and 35mph speed limit used by motorists to get home quickly. Cars usually don't care that I'm there, and I'm okay with that. Today someone cared a little too much.

To the lady in the southbound blue Toyota Camry at the intersection of 33rd and Mopac, near Peter Pan Park, at approximately 5:40 this evening: Just go.

I stood there unclipped from a pedal with my hand locking my front brake and you sat there. I waved you through and you sat there. The four cars stacked up behind you honked at you to go, and you sat there.

Quite frankly, I question your motives: the northbound traffic coming from Vine street sure wasn't going to stop to let me through.

Seriously: after the four cars behind you pass the trail intersection, a gap in traffic opens up that I can pedal through safely. Nobody is stuck behind you. Cyclists aren't throwing dirty looks your way. Everybody is happy.

But happiness is too much to ask for these days, I guess.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. strange timing. I just had to pull your trick of grabbing the stop sign at the Essex St. crossing to make someone realize I was waiting for her. First time I've had to wait for a car at the stop signs (lights are another matter).